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Vancouver Board of Trade Speech 2017

“The world can either buy its oil from Alberta – a province that has taken some of the boldest steps anywhere in the world to tackle climate change – or it can buy it from places with runaway emissions.”

Check against delivery

Hello everyone.

Thank you for that kind introduction.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are on the ancestral territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

It is an enormous pleasure to be back in British Columbia

And it’s an honour to stand before all of you today to talk about an important issue for both our provinces.

For more than a century, the Vancouver Board of Trade has helped this region and all of Western Canada grow and prosper.

I’m hopeful that today we can continue that good work on behalf of people and families in BC and Alberta alike. 

Today I want to speak to you about the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Specifically, I want to make the progressive case for why this pipeline must be built.

This includes the real benefits of this pipeline to working people on both sides of our boarders and across our country.

It includes the most comprehensive climate change action plan in all of North America.

And it includes meaningful responses to the real concerns people and families here in BC have...

…Something I’m going to need all of you to help spread the word about.

Because making sure people in BC know the facts about this pipeline and Alberta’s climate leadership matter to me and to the people I represent back home.

As many of you might know, I lived in BC for many years.

This is where I was married and had both my children.  

In fact, for many years, we lived just off Commercial Drive.

And it’s where I first met your new Premier, John Horgan.

John and I were both staffers at the Legislature in Victoria in the mid-90s, working for the Clark government.

They were interesting times.

I learned a lot working with John…

Although, thankfully, I was spared the lacrosse lessons.

And maybe he learned a thing or two from me as well.

But what all eager young staffers learn – with time – is that government is about serving people.

And I know that both of our respective governments share that basic philosophy.

Whatever our differences – and we have a big one – we were elected to make life better for everyday families.

Jobs, affordability, a clean environment, good public schools and good health care…

…these are the things that matter to Albertans and to my government.

And I know they matter to British Columbians and John’s government as well.

That’s not really surprising.

BC and Alberta share very deep ties.

Our economies are linked and so are our cultures.

Over the holidays, there will be families travelling from BC to visit their love ones in Alberta, and families from Alberta will visit their loved ones here.

All of us want good jobs, a clean environment and opportunities for our kids and grandkids.

Our good fortune is your good fortune and vice versa.

There is a good reason why WestJet has direct flights between Kamloops and Fort McMurray.

And it’s not because of vacationers.

It’s because for decades, our oil sands have helped people from across Canada build better lives, pay taxes and build stronger communities in their home provinces.

Here in BC in 2014, 44,000 people who lived and paid taxes in British Columbia worked in Alberta. 

They earned more than $2 billion – most of which I suspect was spent supporting your local economy.

So when oil prices drop from well over $100 a barrel to under $30 a barrel inside of a year – the effect is felt well beyond Alberta’s borders.

It is also felt in homes and communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

These aren’t just numbers – they are real people…

…working people who rely on a strong energy industry to put food on the table, take care of their families, and put something away for retirement.

And these are working people who contribute mightily to the health and well-being of the programs and services all Canadians rely on.

Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia are all net fiscal contributors to the Canadian federation.

On a per-capita basis, folks in Saskatchewan contribute $554 every year to our country.

In Ontario, it’s an average of $650 per person.

Here in BC, it’s $886.

And in Alberta, every woman, man and child contributes an average of $5,148 to our country…

Six times more, per person.

All in, Alberta contributes $22 billion per year more to Ottawa than we receive in return, even after the effects of the oil downturn and the recession.

I raise this only to say that Alberta’s energy industry is a dominant part of what makes Canada tick.

And the working people of Alberta work hard to make sure all Canadians benefit.

And you may have heard me say this before, but it bears repeating:

There is not a school, hospital, bus, road, bike-lane or port that doesn’t owe something to a strong energy industry.

So I think – no, I trust – we can all agree that Alberta’s energy industry is a vital part of what makes Canada great.

And with that as our starting point, let’s have the conversation I came here today – and have come here before – to have with British Columbians.

To begin, I want to tell you what I’m not going to do.

Although some people are urging me to yell and scream…shake my fist…and generally have a temper tantrum…I am not here to do that.

…although it might make good TV.

First and foremost, I don’t believe we can build a strong Canada by building walls. Divisive tactics won’t get us anywhere.

We are one country. And we need to listen to each other.

Second, our national government has made a decision in the national interest, as it should. 

And therefore, I believe this conversation is among Canadian citizens, with shared bonds.

What unites us is stronger than that which divides us and we must always look for common ground.

With that in mind, I also believe that the extraordinary steps your fellow citizens in Alberta have taken to tackle climate change and support working people speak to a larger national purpose…

…One that can bring Albertans, British Columbians and all Canadians together around shared national aims for our climate and our economy.

Let’s have a look at that plan.

For too long in Alberta, governments ignored climate change.

They crossed their arms, turned their backs, and yelled at anyone who challenged them.

It got Alberta nowhere.

And so, when my government was elected a little over two years ago, we fundamentally changed our approach.

Instead of pointing fingers and shouting, we brought people together.

Environmentalists…

Energy companies...

Workers…

and we developed a made-in-Alberta plan that is the most aggressive and comprehensive response to climate change anywhere in North America.

In many ways we took inspiration from BC, one of North America’s first jurisdictions to bring in an economy-wide price on carbon.

But we went further.

Here’s what our plan does:

We are phasing our coal pollution.

Not only does coal currently account for 60 per cent of Alberta’s electricity…

Alberta burns more coal than the rest of the country combined.

So we’re replacing it, bringing in more renewables and more clean burning natural gas.

When we are done, we will have made good on one of the most dramatic clean energy conversions anywhere in the world…

Something that will go a long way to helping our country meet its international climate change commitments.

As a result, Alberta is now one of North America’s hottest renewable energy markets.

Jobs are being created.

Investors are lining up.

Our post-secondary schools are ramping up their training programs.

And the air we breathe will be cleaner and healthier for it.

We have also implemented world-leading energy efficiency programs. 

Since the spring of this year, over 150,000 households have signed up to get free energy-efficient products installed in their homes.

These instillations alone will reduce more than 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions…

And that work is only beginning.

We are also working with industry to reduce harmful methane emissions.

And as some of you may know, but many don’t…

A central pillar of our Climate Leadership Plan saw us legislate a hard cap on emissions from the oil sands…

...a hard cap.

This measure is critical.

It was developed in lock-step with leading producers and job creators in our oil sands…

People who are dedicated to being part of the solution.

I want to pause here to reflect on the ambition and scope of these changes.

Alberta’s energy industry, its workers, the communities that rely on the oil sands took a giant step forward.

And we did it in the midst of a punishing economic recession.

It wasn’t – and it isn’t – easy.

But Albertans took this step because as Canada’s largest energy producer we know that we have a unique responsibility to tackle climate change.

And we know that any climate action plan that doesn’t include Alberta is not a plan.

We all want – and must – do right by future generations.

And though some argue that we can build our energy industry for the future and ignore climate change, we know that is just a fantasy.

And I am proud of the fact that by capping emissions, the Trans-Mountain pipeline does not contribute to climate change.

This is very important for all Canadians to understand.  

And as I have learned, I cannot say it enough.

So I want to place special emphasis on it here BC.

Let me be clear –

The Trans-Mountain Pipeline will not –will not – increase GHG emissions from our oil sands.

And those who say otherwise are just playing politics with the jobs and livelihoods of working people.

The only thing the Trans-Mountain pipeline will increase is prosperity for all Canadians and jobs for many.  

Let’s turn to that point.

One of the single greatest challenges we face in the pursuit of jobs and prosperity - the challenge of market access.

You don’t need to be in business to know that relying on one customer at one price is not a good strategy.

But that’s exactly what’s going on in our energy industry.

Right now Canadians can only sell our oil products to one customer – the United States.

And that means we take a big discount on every barrel of oil we sell.

Today, WTI is hovering around $58.

Western Canadian Select is around $40.

A big part of that price differential is due to our restricted markets and to the fact our resources are being transported increasingly by rail.

The more rail we use, the bigger this differential gets.

The bigger this differential gets, the more money we all leave on the table.

In other words, countries like Russia which don’t care about climate change can get full-value for their products on world markets and Canadians can’t.

That’s less money for health care. Less money for education. And it’s less money to grow our renewable sector and reduce our emissions.

The United States has also tripled its own energy production over the past decade and built numerous pipelines – while we in Canada were arguing over ours.

So the Americans are Canada’s sole customer and are emerging as our principal competitor.

Like many other countries in the world, Canada has good reason to be concerned about being overly-dependent on the US for our prosperity and stability.

If I can put this politely as possible, stability is not the hallmark of the current political scene in the US. 

And it is not clear that our interest or concerns are factoring one bit in their political debate.

The central charter of our economic relationship – NAFTA – has been directly challenged by the new U.S. administration.

So both the long-term trends in the North American energy industries, and recent political developments in the United States, urge us to diversify our markets as quickly as possible.

That being so, to be economically safer and more secure…

to be more resilient in the face of the inevitable ups and downs of the energy market…

…we must develop new markets and new customers for the energy we will produce, within the strong climate change policies we have all adopted.

That is what Alberta is right now offering to our country.

Greater economic security and a real plan to address climate change.

But those two must go hand-in-hand.

Simply put, Alberta and Canada cannot be a climate change leader if our economy is put in a straightjacket, locked into selling to one customer.

It just doesn’t make any sense.  And it needs to change.

To do this, we need to build a Canadian pipeline to the ocean.

And that means we have to trade though this region…Canada’s gateway to the Pacific…

…a gateway for trade that is critically important to a national economy where 20 per cent of exports come from oil and gas.

The twinning of the Trans-Mountain pipeline achieves that goal.

Now of course, access through Canada’s west coast port means access to British Columbia’s coast.

Every year, thousands of commercial ships travel through this region safely and reliably, adding tens of billions of dollars to our national economy.

Vancouver is one of the world’s great port cities, and, in the Lower Mainland, you are world leaders promoting trade while protecting marine ecosystems.

In fact, right now a new 14 kilometer pipeline has been proposed to bring fuel from the Fraser River to the Vancouver International Airport.

A pipeline, I should say, that is carrying jet fuel from the US and Asia, not Canada.

Friends…I won’t dwell on this point.

But I hope you can understand why that decision fuels some cynicism and frustration in Alberta.

I mean come on – your Canadian neighbours provide energy that benefits all Canadians. 

If we can build pipelines that move US and Asian energy products, surely we can build them to move Canadian products.

But whatever the merits of that decision, you are able to build these pipelines because you also know what it takes to protect our coast.

That’s how world-class port cities operate. You set the standard.

And as the New Democrat Premier of Alberta – someone who is working to combine a commitment to climate action with support for working people…

…I passionately believe that the twinning of the Trans-Mountain Pipeline meets the high economic and environmental tests we expect – and we demand -- from it.

I am proud of the fact that the Trans-Mountain project also means a $1.5 billion Federal Government investment in coastal and marine safety.

The new, world-class coastal protection plan means that everything being shipped along the coast – be it coal, chemicals or cars – is safer. 

Those new measures would not have happened were it not for this pipeline project.

And let me say on this point, there is a persistent narrative that the Trans-Mountain Pipeline will lead to a massive increase in tanker traffic.

That’s simply not true.

When completed, tanker traffic will represent less than seven percent of vessels that travel in the Salish Sea.

I am also very proud of the fact that the new pipeline will take energy products off the railroads and into modern, well-regulated, well-designed and closely supervised pipelines.

In doing so, it will help create good jobs across this province.

Jobs in places like Hope, where $308 million will be spent during construction…

…in Kamloops where hundreds of thousands of dollars will be invested in local projects through the Community Benefit Agreement…

…in Chilliwack that is home to many businesses that supply services and products to energy companies in Alberta….

…and in Burnaby, where Trans-Mountain is one of the city’s largest taxpayers.

In short, friends, I would not be standing before you today, if I did not believe that the Trans-Mountain Pipeline contributed to a better Canada.

A Canada where we get a fair return for our most valuable resource.

A Canada where we take climate change seriously and back up it up with meaningful action.

And a Canada where we advance equality and support working families, not just those at the top.

So let me reiterate:

  • Building new pipelines such as Trans Mountain to open up new markets underwrites the Canadian government’s ability to fund hospitals for our loved ones, schools for our kids and everything that goes into strengthening our national purpose. It is a national endeavor.
  • Getting better prices from more buyers will be good for the jobs of tens of thousands of ordinary working Canadians, including working people in BC.
  • Pipelines are safer than what we are doing now. Getting pipelines built will give Canada a safer, less risky energy infrastructure.
  • And getting better prices from more buyers will not come at the expense of increased emissions, thanks to our climate leadership plan – the strongest plan of its kind in the country.

Friends,

Despite the polarized nature of our politics, I submit to you that most Canadians – and most British Columbians -- support these goals.

Most Canadians, in each and every province of this country support the moderate, progressive approach I’ve outlined today.

Most Canadians understand that we have one national government to make final decisions about our one integrated, mutually-dependent and mutually-sharing national economy.

And for that I say…Thank God.

But we — the moderate, progressive majority in Canada — risk being out-shouted.

So as the Premier of Alberta – a province that contributes mightily to the economic well-being of our country and leads Canada on climate action…

….I carry this message to you and to every Canadian…

…If you care you care about the climate.

If you care about jobs and working people.

If you care about building a society where everyone matters.

If you care about building a national economy that can compete and win in the global marketplace.

If you care about these things like I do, and still want to stop Alberta from diversifying our markets…

…then please, listen to what you fellow citizens – your neighbours, family members and friends – in Alberta are saying.

The world can either buy its oil from Alberta – a province that has taken some of the boldest steps anywhere in the world to tackle climate change – or it can buy it from places with runaway emissions.

We can get a fair return for our most valuable commodity produced under a hard emissions cap and invest that money to build a better society, or we can turn back the clock.

And make no mistake – Alberta cannot fund the transition to a greener lower-carbon future if our economy is held hostage by our geography.

We can ship our energy products in the safest way possible, or we can ship them by rail, driving up emissions and costs.

We can prove to the world that you can support working people and tackle the planet’s most pressing problem…

…or we can choose one over the other and fail on both.

Friends,

This is what Alberta is saying.  

This is what we are asking you to hear.

Not as competitors, but as fellow citizens of a great country who are on a common journey with a shared future.

Because in an uncertain world, Albertans, British Columbians and Canadians are all in this together.

We can either shape that future together as one nation with shared aspirations or we can devolve into competing economic fiefdoms, fighting for diminishing economic returns…

Canadians only in name.

And I’m hoping you – you, listening to me at this event today — are part of the moderate majority in Canada who want to see a progressive plan.

If you are, now is the time to speak up.

It’s time to tell governments that we have the right climate leadership plan, and that it should be implemented.

And it is time to tell governments that we have made the right decisions about energy infrastructure, and it is time to implement them too.

It is time to respect those decisions, and to get the safe, modern energy infrastructure we need built.

And built now.

I’m here today to ask for your support, as engaged citizens, and as members of Canada’s balanced, moderate, progressive majority.

We can do this.

We can act on climate change.

We can build a prosperous economy with good jobs for working families.

We can have a functioning national economy — that is capable of making decisions.

We can step back from extreme positions, and reach solutions together.

Like the one I’ve been talking about today.

You can help make it happen.

Please do.

The time to speak up is now.

Thank you.